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Haas F1 Team

Steiner unconcerned by Uralkali/Mazepin crisis: It's a bump in the road

Guenther Steiner has downplayed the impact of the current turmoil surrounding the Haas team, as they have cut ties with Russian title sponsor Uralkali and race driver Nikita Mazepin.

Mazepin Barcelona
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To news overview © Haas F1

Guenther Steiner has said that the recent headlines surrounding Haas while the American-led squad sought to cut ties with their Russian title sponsor and driver Nikita Mazepin are nothing but a "bump in the road".

Haas, sponsored by Uralkali, pulled the Russian fertiliser company's branding from their cars and team trucks on the final day of testing in Barcelona last week, a day after Russia began military action in Ukraine.

Rumours swirled around the team in the days since, particularly regarding the future of Mazepin due to his seat being secured thanks to Uralkali's backing of Haas. Dmitry Mazepin, father of Nikita, is the majority shareholder and chairman of Uralkali.

With strict economic sanctions being placed upon Russian businesses and companies, including being cut off from the SWIFT global financial system, Uralkali's contract was also put under heavy scrutiny.

Steiner explains "bump in the road" for Haas

On Saturday, Haas put an end to the rumours as they confirmed the release of Mazepin, and the severing of ties with Uralkali.

While the loss of their title sponsor will have a not insignificant effect on Haas' finances, Steiner has already previously guaranteed the survival of the small team and said there is "nothing to worry about" regarding the team's future.

"I'm actually not too bad," Steiner told media, including RacingNews365.com, in the aftermath of the initial Uralkali announcement in Barcelona, when asked how he was handling the stress of the situation.

"I've been through a few tough things. It was hard work and I had a group of people helping me on this. You cannot do this on your own, but the team out on the racetrack are not affected by this.

"I spoke with them and told them there is nothing to worry for them. Everything is fine. This is a bump in the road, which we didn't expect and nobody expected or wants."

Steiner certain that Haas made the correct decision

While it took Haas over a week to pick through the legalities of cutting ties with the Mazepins, Steiner said it was a matter of pride that his team were able to take the initial step of pulling Uralkali's branding from their cars.

Haas ran a plain white VF-22 on the final day of the Barcelona test, a move that will likely be repeated when testing resumes in Bahrain next week.

"I think, as a team, we took the right decision at this moment in time to send a message to everybody," said Steiner.

Asked how the decision was reached to so quickly distance the team from their Russian backers, Steiner explained that it was an ongoing process through the final day of the test.

"I went straight to talk with Gene (Haas, team owner) about it," he commented.

"Then we got in contact with our partners and we made a decision. As you saw, we reacted very quickly to it. You can imagine it was very straight talk.

"Obviously, you need to keep the people involved. The headquarters of Haas Automation is in California, they are nine hours behind, so I had to wait until I could get in touch with the boss of Haas Automation as well to talk it through, because they are the biggest partner on our car.

"We acted quickly. We are a small team, which is sometimes good [as] we have direct lines of communication, and we just executed them."

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